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Mr. Lizard draws crowd at the Woodstock Library

by: David F. Ashton This Brazilian rainbow boa constrictor is just about ready to shed its skin, Mr. Lizard confides.

So enthusiastic was the response to 'Mr. Lizard' - Brett Wilson - at the Woodstock Branch Library this summer, that the reptile-bearing educator offered two additional shows the same day to meet the demand to see his scaly friends.

Before he started his presentation, Wilson said, 'I was working in a dental office, and was about to get into dental school, when a patient - a school teacher - said, 'My kids will flip if you bring some of your collection to our class.' (It was not clear from this remark whether or not he regularly kept reptiles in his dental examination room.)

'I did it, and it was the most fun thing I ever did,' Wilson beamed. 'The kids loved it. I ended up going out to classrooms on Mondays, when the dental office was closed, for about nine years - for free, because I didn't yet realize that anyone would be willing to pay me for it.'

When he moved to Los Angeles, Wilson was referred to a school assembly booker, and he spent the next few years presenting programs. 'I'm still amazed that I get to present programs and get paid to do it. It's a hoot! So, instead of becoming a dentist, I've been 'Mister Lizard' for 19 years now.'

Presenting his program in libraries and schools is important, Wilson said, because kids form opinions about animals at an early age.

'I don't exactly remember what the 'Snake Lady' did and the 'Bird Lady' did when they came to our school, but I came away with a lifelong obsession with reptiles, and a lifelong fear of birds.

'My big thing is I want to get kids exposed to reptiles in a way that is going to leave a positive impression with them. I don't want them to go through life being afraid of things - especially reptiles!'

To learn more about Mr. Lizard, visit his Internet website: www.misterlizard.com .